An endearingly heartfelt and humorous YA rom-com, Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda) spotlights the butterflies-in-stomach excitement of magnetic crushes and the warming embrace of friendship.
Best friends Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker happily share everything, even the same crushes. But when Matt Olsson, the blond-haired and pink-cheeked star of both of their summer make-out daydreams, enrolls at their high school, sharing gets complicated. Unsure how Matt identifies and both very interested, Kate and Andy decide to see if Matt pursues either of them. When Matt attends Kate's family's Shabbat dinner, Andy arrives looking like an "absolute thirst machine." Kate is also sure the boys are sharing flirty text messages. But she gets to kiss Matt over and over again in school musical rehearsals. Then Andy's text messages turn passive-aggressive. Kate worries she could lose her best friend over this boy but believes that if there is chemistry between her and Matt, there would be no way to save her friendship with Andy.
Albertalli applies her prowess in crafting fantastic LGBTQIA+ voices to a YA novel gushing with laughs. Writing in Kate's both sarcastic and tender voice, Albertalli balances silly banter and affectionate teasing with heart-to-hearts between friends adorably protective of their relationship. Kate, a "passenger seat" person accustomed to telling Andy everything, works to free a more independent self. Meanwhile, Andy, who is Black and gay in the Deep South, feels accepted by Matt, and sees him as an odds-defying chance at romance. The magic of theater--that "leveled-up" closeness of working together on a play--and utterly sweet subplots make Kate in Waiting playfully dramatic with a valuable message about charting one's own path. --Samantha Zaboski, freelance editor and reviewer